Ethnic Fables

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 30 Sep 1995 09:09:44 +0900

ethnic differences that,

The problem seems to arise when the term 'brute
exploitation' or whatever other atrocity, has to be
'operationalized'. I think, the root of the problem is
best illustrated by the fable, (Aesop's, I think) , of the
fox and the stork. It seems the fox invited the stork to
dinner, but served gruel on flat plates, which
prevented the stork from consuming any, and the fox
ate both portions. Later, the stork returned the
invitation and served frogs in jars, which the fox was
unable to access. Thus, constructing some set of 'rules
of engagement' acceptable to all players is difficult, if
not impossible, for few of us will accept any given set
of rules 'even unto death'. That is, when I am loosing,
and the stakes are life or death, I will say either that
you are cheating, or that the rules are not fair to me.
The only time we can expect 'sportsman like' behavior
in a competition is if the costs of loosing are still
tolerable to the looser. It is always up to the winners
to make it so.

I often think, that abstract Christianity, for which
Martin Luther thought he stood, (as opposed to
'actually existing Christianity' which comes in many
varieties and the shadow of which is 'actually existing
socialism'.) advocates something along this line when
it preaches salvation by grace rather then by works
"lest anyone boast"
The fable of the fox and the stork is an all too telling
image of what passes for "negotiation" in too many
arenas these days. What hope there is arises from
situations in which the bear comes along and takes
both gruel and frogs, forcing the fox and the stork to
consider a common cause. Of course, the bear may be
smart enough to leave a little gruel on the plates and a
few frogs in the jar. A wicked bear will occasionally
leave enough one place or the other to persuade the
fox or the stork that they're better off with the bear
than each other. A more businesslike bear will build a
rice paddy to increase the supply of both gruel and
frogs and eventually be able to bring in a monkey as
manager, leaving himself the time to enjoy the honey
he has always kept for himself. Is all this "fair"? No. Is
it better than carnage? Yes. The question, of course, is
the wicked bears. Then even the rational pragmatist
will take up arms in defense of liberty. The moral
issue s/he faces is deciding when the bear is wicked
enough to justify this last resort.